Lincoln Enterprises: A Little Piece of Star Trek

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Lincoln Enterprises: A Little Piece of Star Trek
Interviewer: Jo Davidsmeyer
Interviewee: Majel Barrett Roddenberry
Date(s): 1993
Medium: print, online
Fandom(s): Star Trek
External Links: online here; Archive
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Lincoln Enterprises: A Little Piece of Star Trek was an interview with Majel Barrett Roddenberry published in Strange New Worlds #10.

Some topics touched upon: Lincoln Enterprises, fandom and profit, Star Trek.

Excerpts

Lincoln has been in existence for probably almost a hundred years. It was originally Lincoln Publishing and it was owned by another gentleman many, many years before. His attorney was Leonard Maislich. For some reason or another he gave the incorporation to Leonard. I don’t know how it basically happened, but it really belonged to Leonard Maislich until he gave it to me in the early eighties. It [Lincoln] was merely set up for Gene to handle fan mail for Star Trek. Isaac Asimov had once written a very intelligent question to Gene that had somehow or other ended up in the fan mail division. In answer to the question, Isaac received an autographed picture of the cast.
So Isaac called Gene and Gene in a fit of rage and everything said, "We’re gonna handle this fan mail ourselves, darn it!" So he asked me if I’d take it over and that’s basically how it started. Then when Desilu no longer had enough money -- you know, they figured they had a dying show anyway -- they said "Well, we’re not going to give you any more money to send out pictures." But fans were still sending in and asking for them, so the thought was now that "Gee, we don't have the money for this, but maybe if they want it enough, they’d be willing to pay for it." So we would send a letter, "Thank you for your request," and so forth and would you be willing to do this, to pay for it, and they said YES! So we made just a small list at first and told them how much the pictures would cost, or a calendar, or a writer's guide, or whatever they wanted, and that’s how we got started. We also answered questions, whatever questions they had, at the same time. So that was how it started. From there on in it got a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger. But we were always still doing peer group promotions . . . people just like us talking with others just like us.
We haven’t expanded beyond the original intent, actually, but we’re about to. We used to carry just memorabilia. If it didn’t exist in the show, we just didn’t carry it. In other words we weren’t into the games and things like that. We work with the Writers Guild so we can sell scripts exactly as they are used in the show. They look the same, they are the same. Page for page they are the actual script. We used to have [original] film clips which, of course, we’ve run out of. They were just little film clip frames, but everyone liked them so much because they were a little piece of Star Trek. And that was our aim, to let everyone have a small piece of Star Trek. That was basically how we kept the show on the air.
I’d like to get more commercial with it. I’d like to go in for the dolls and the plates, the games and the electronic parts and so forth. In other words, not just memorabilia, but merchandise.... We've always produced the merchandise ourselves. When we handle the other stuff, we won’t be making the games, of course, the action figures, etc. Those we will buy from the wholesalers.
Since we have the only legal place in the world to buy Trek scripts I would say that they do want a lot of scripts. But everything varies. There’s a lot of jewelry and the pins and the communicators and stuff that is worn; there’s a lot of interest in patterns, for example. We sell patterns to the costumes so fans can make their own. There are places that make them, but they’re terribly expensive and we’ve always kept our prices down way, way, way low because Gene felt as though he wanted everyone to be able to have them. So we’ve kept it way down. We really haven’t geared ourselves in all these twenty-seven years toward a profit and we’d like to change that.
I just had a marvelous time doing [making the hats sold at the Seatrek 1993]. I saw this great hat once. I liked it right away, and I asked how much it was. And, oh! It was far too much! I walked away from it. It took me two more times walking past it until I said I’ve got to have one. I was looking at it, and looking at it carefully, and I said, "I can make them cheaper than this, for heaven’s sake. Of course I can!" So I went downtown to all the wholesale houses and I bought the hats, I bought the ribbons, I bought the beads, and everything. Then I sat down to make one. Well, the first one I think took me about eight hours. It still takes about 2-1/2 hours. I’ve since found out that , no, you can’t make it cheaper than what I bought it for. There’s just no way. And, of course, when I pushed them off on my helper, she took one look at ‘em and said, "Not me, boy!" All those little coins that you see on them there, those have to be put on one by one, jump ring by jump ring, onto the loop on the braid. So I do it on airplanes, just from one place to another. I get ‘em done quite easily there as a matter of fact. They really didn’t have anything to do with Star Trek, but I managed to put an insignia on ‘em and so they became Star Trek hat.

References